On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals announced that second-year centre Nicklas Backstrom had withdrawn from playing in his second YoungStars game as part of All Star Weekend in Montreal.
On Thursday, the 21-year-old was at home in Sweden where he was attending a Swedish Eliteserien game between his former team, Brynäs IF and Timrå.
Interviewed by Aftonbladet at the game, Backstrom said, “There was a good opportunity to be able to go home to Gävle in the middle of the season. Otherwise I won't get home for a fairly long time.”
Asked if he would be skating with his former team, Backstrom, who is second in Caps scoring with 48 points in 48 games played, said, “No, there will be no skates now for a week. The NHL has rules that say that those of us who are not part of the All Star celebration have to take time off.”
Backstrom played in last year’s version of the YoungStars game, where he scored two goals and helped his Eastern Conference team to a 7-6 win.
Due to a change in the game’s format this year, rookies will play against second-year players, which made Backstrom—last season’s Calder Trophy runner up—eligible to play in another contest.
When Backstrom withdrew from the festivities, the Caps issued a press release on their website saying that the 6’0”, 183 lb. Swede wanted to give someone else the opportunity to play in the game, and that he wanted to rest and prepare for the second half of the season.
That second half starts Tuesday, when the Southeast Division-leading Capitals (30–15–3) travel to Boston to take on the Bruins, who are the only team ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.
Luckily for Backstrom, a ruling by Colin Campbell (NHL’s Senior VP and Director of Hockey Operations), which stipulates that players who miss the All-Star weekend without injury will be suspended for one game, does not affect the YoungStars.
Backstrom, who is one of only four Capitals to play in all 48 games this season, says his quick visit to his homeland includes very simple plans, “I will visit with my family and meet some friends.”